Serious trophy hunters and those looking to fill freezers sometimes have a tough time with Long Island’s mid-summer bite. By late July, cow stripers generally prefer late night tides when waters are coolest, fluke populations in easy to reach areas have been heavily culled, and even bluefish sometimes take a breather.
None of that means there aren’t any fish to catch. In fact, mixed-bag bottom fishing for less glamourous species including black sea bass, porgies, triggerfish and red hake at this time of year can offer steady action within a reasonable ride of most ports while providing enough fillets for several delicious seafood dinners.
“Mixed-bag fishing,” says Capt. Steve Kearney of the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk, “is also great for kids.” Kearney is on target in his assessment. When it comes to piscatorial pursuit, kids care more about how often the rod bends than how big the fish are. They enjoy seeing a variety of different species, and they can be thrilled at the prospect of taking a few home at the end of the day.
“Now is definitely the time to give it a try,” says Kearney. “Bottom fishing on near shore ocean reefs has been solid, with anglers often catching four or five species of fish while limiting out with sea bass. If you want to get the family out, the next few weeks are prime time.”
Indeed, along both the South and North shores, the numbers of sea bass being caught continue to amaze, and porgies are in good supply, too. Gray triggerfish, a tasty and combatant species with big buck teeth, adds a completely different profile to the day’s catch and red hake can be caught in quantity for boats venturing a few additional miles out into the ocean.
Boats sailing out every South Shore inlet are within easy reach of first class bottom fishing fun while the North Shore ports of Huntington, Port Jefferson, Greenport and Orient Point also offer super mixed-bag scores.
For those still intent on hauling in stripers, Montauk continues to produce big bass at a furious pace, with many fish exceeding 40 pounds falling to live eels, spot and even legal sized porgies. The waters around Orient Point are also providing steady action with linesiders ranging from hefty schoolies to 20 pounds and occasionally larger.
Capt. Rich Jensen’s charter vessel, Nancy Ann IV, has consistently scored on night tides at Plum Gut and The Race. Bucktails, swim shads and live eels drifted around the change of tide have all accounted for keepers.
Another productive striper area has been around the West End bridges. Greg Nisito of Massapequa has been fishing around both the Wantagh and Meadowbrook crossings with fresh chowder clams after dark to score with a plenty of schoolies and a few bass up to 31 inches.
North Shore anglers should be happy this week with New York’s continued focus on reef expansion and replenishment. On Thursday, the New York State DEC oversaw deposits to Smithtown Reef that will ultimately include 75 tons of steel pipe plus two 40-foot tenders from the upstate canal system. In the long run, that’s going to make mixed-bag fishing in the area even better. The site sits just a mile offshore in relatively protected Long Island Sound waters.